Is this the Future of Adaptation? Who Pays to Avoid the Cost of Coastal Flooding?


The New York Times reported today that Governor Cuomo is proposing to spend $400 million to buy out owners of property to avoid a recurrence of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.  I have to say that I have been persuaded over the past few years that we cannot put all our eggs in the mitigation basket, particularly since political gridlock in Washington has prevented much mitigation from occurring.

As a result, adaptation is going to be important and programs at least similar to what Governor Cuomo has proposed are going to be necessary.  The hard question, of course, is:  who pays?  According to the Times, those in areas most subject to flooding would get paid a premium.  The harsh way to ask the question is to wonder why we should reward people for choosing to buy property that, even before climate change, was located in areas subject to coastal flooding.

I’m afraid that the answer to this question may be that we have no choice.  Our politics requires us to help the victims of natural disasters, even when common sense tells us that we are simply subsidizing bad choices.  Our bizarre takings jurisprudence doesn’t allow us to solve the problem by regulation.  Therefore, voluntary buyouts, which probably require premiums to work, may be unavoidable.

At least New York isn’t Virginia, where significant numbers of lawmakers seem to prefer the ostrich approach.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Foley Hoag LLP - Environmental Law | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Foley Hoag LLP - Environmental Law on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.